Double Major

By: Catherine Gayle

“Will it work?”

“I have to make it work,” Nicky said. “I don’t have many options left. If I can’t sort my shit out, I’m going to lose my spot on the team. Then what?”

“Then you’d better make it work.”

He stared at me so long it made me squirm, and I was pretty sure I was blushing. I didn’t know what the hell he was staring at me like that for, and I didn’t have the first clue what else to say to him.

After a minute, he ended my suspense. “You’re a good man, Babs. Katie knows that. She’s not going to forget it.”

I had been a hell of a lot more comfortable talking about Nicky’s issues than I was talking about me and my fucking broken heart. I shook my head, but I didn’t know what I was trying to shake off other than the fist that seemed to be squeezing my chest.

“Don’t brush that shit off, man. That girl is as crazy about you as you are about her. She’ll come back someday, and you two will both be better for it.”

“She might not come back. She might hit it big in LA. She might meet someone else.” She might forget about me.

“There are a hell of a lot of mights in this world, Babs. You can’t let them rule you.” He sat up again, curling one leg underneath him and leaning forward. “Why don’t you come spend some time in Sweden this summer? Clear your head some. You can visit me while I’m in treatment, if you want. Maybe meet some other girl to help you pass the time until Katie comes back.”

I didn’t want to meet another girl. I only wanted Katie. The fact of the matter, though, was I couldn’t have Katie right now, and I might not ever be able to have her. I wasn’t ready to just move on, though. I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea of being with someone else when all I wanted was her. Maybe someday I could. But not now.

I started to shake my head, but Nicky cut me off before I could shoot his idea down.

“Bring your brothers and your parents. Make it a family vacation. Lord knows you’ve got enough money to pay for something like that right now with all your bonuses. Hell, don’t come to Sweden if you don’t want to. Go to Australia or Cancun or Timbuktu for all I care. Just get away for a while so you can get your head straight. The boys are going to need you to have your shit together when the season starts.”

“We need you, too,” I said pointedly.

“Which is why I’m going to this treatment program. I’m taking care of my shit; you have to get a handle on yours.”

“Okay. Make me a deal.”

Nicky raised a brow. “What kind of deal?”

“We both come back to training camp ready to focus on hockey and nothing else. No issues with pills or beer or any of that shit. No letting the fact that Katie’s gone fuck with my head and screw up my game. We both go in with one goal, and that’s to get the Storm to the Stanley Cup Finals. You and me—we’re going to put the team on our backs and we’re going to get there.”

“Yeah.” Nicky gave a deliberate nod, and I could see the determined look come back into his eyes, the sort of expression that he always got right before we went out on the ice for a game. “Yeah, that’s a deal.”

“We do whatever it takes, and we drag the rest of the boys along with us. Then there won’t be time or energy to think about all the rest of that crap.”

A slow smile curled his lips. “You really are a good man, Babs. Never doubt that, and don’t let yourself think that Katie doesn’t care just as much about you as you do about her.”

Why the hell did he have to keep bringing it back to Katie?

“Get the fuck out of here,” Nicky said, standing up and stretching his arms over his head. “I need sleep, and you need to call your brother. It was a big day for him, and you’ve been busy all day.”

“Yeah, all right.” I got up, and Nicky put out a hand to shake mine. As soon as I grabbed hold of it, he pulled me in and slapped my back.

“And I meant it about coming to Sweden,” he said. “It’s a great place to refresh and get your head clear for the new season.”

“I’ll think about it.” It would be nice to be able to take my family somewhere. We could celebrate Levi’s draft by having a vacation together, and it would be easier to avoid thinking about how much my heart hurt from Katie leaving if I was surrounded by my brothers. They never let me sulk too much.

He walked me to his door and locked it behind me, and I pulled out my phone as I headed for the stairs to go to my own room. It was late—almost midnight—but there wasn’t a chance Levi was already in bed. Not after experiencing a high like he’d had today. I hit the speed dial button to call him.

“About time, asswipe,” he said as soon as he picked up. “You think a text message is enough to celebrate?”

“Sorry. It’s been a long day.”

“Yeah. Tell me about it.” Levi sighed dramatically. “I still can’t believe this happened… Hey, sorry about Razor.”

“It’s all right,” I said as I put the key card in my door. “These things happen in this business. It’s not your fault.”

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